The Chark Speaks…Richard Charkin, Chief Executive of Macmillan and author of the most influential blog in the publishing world, visited Oxford Brookes University on 31 October 2006 to give a talk at the Oxford International Centre for Publishing Studies. Mae Dagre, MA in Publishing student, reports on his talk: 'Richard Charkin's creatively-titled research seminar - 'The Elephant and the Rat: Innovation in Publishing' - explored areas surrounding the impact of size and ownership of publishing houses on innovation, the different strategies pursued by editors when developing new titles and Charkin's extensive industry contacts and personal experience surrounding innovation.
'In the seminar the size of publishing houses was explored in relation to its impact on achieving innovation, and it was concluded that the sheer enormity of some of the larger houses (with their very diverse portfolios and management structures remote from day-to-day activities) could inhibit the light-footedness and agility needed to innovate. A possible solution explored in the seminar is to break houses into smaller units or imprints (as Macmillan has done with its Macmillan Science and Macmillan New Writing initiatives), and Charkin stressed the importance of delegating true autonomy and decision-making power. Charkin also explored the idea that company ownership by individuals can be a catalyst for innovation in many houses, and that privately-owned companies often find it easier to stay nimble and innovate.
'The seminar was followed by questions from the audience and discussion surrounding issues ranging from the role of women in publishing boardrooms to the difficulty of entering large publishing houses as a new recruit - and then refreshments and networking opportunities were provided and enjoyed by all.'
The seminar was one in a series of lively and thought-provoking Publishing Research Seminars run by the Oxford Interntational Centre for Publishing Studies. The next event is on Tuesday 21 November, and features John Mitchinson from The QI Bookshop in Oxford.
Filed Under Publishing